Infrastructure Australia is the infrastructure authority of the Commonwealth, an independent statutory body that aims to progress and priorities infrastructure throughout the country.
Infrastructure Australia provides advice and research to the community and governments. This advice draws on multiple criteria and relates to the projects that the country needs in order to move forward economically and fill the infrastructure gap.
Established in July 2008, it was initially established to provide advice to the government, and the Infrastructure Australia Act 2008 was amended in 2014 to give Infrastructure Australia new powers, allowing it to create an independent board and also appoint its own CEO. The 12 members on the board have experience across many different sectors, including public, private, academia and business.
The Act gives Infrastructure Australia the responsibility and power to audit the significant infrastructure in Australia and also develop 15-year plans specifying state and national level priorities. It also allows Infrastructure Australia to decide which projects should go on the Infrastructure Priority List- a prioritisation process that ensures that there is always a credible pipeline of infrastructure projects that are nationally significant.
Mark Birrell is the chairman for Infrastructure Australia, and he says that greater foresight will be essential when it comes to infrastructure planning in order for Australia to have a successful economy over the long term.
“Infrastructure has to be developed and planned with a long-term focus”, he says, “Avoiding the problems of previous election campaigns where projects were developed in isolation and the needs of infrastructure users gained little publicity.”
The board recently positively assessed business cases for the Ipswich Motorway and M1 Pacific motorway, and the first 15-year infrastructure plan was released in February this year after 18 months of intense work. The plan included 78 separate recommendations for reform, including the need for governments to make smarter investment decisions and ensure people are charged more fairly for infrastructure services they’re using.